Sandbags and materials are available for San Benito County residents at the City of Hollister public works yard on South Street (pictured) and other locations in the county. Photo: Chris Mora
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Residents and property owners began preparing early this week for an incoming round of storms that forecasters say could drench some areas from Morgan Hill to south San Benito County with more than two inches of rain by Sunday. 

As this story goes to press the evening of Jan. 31, the first of these storms was bearing down on the South Valley. National Weather Service Meteorologist Rachel Kennedy said from Wednesday morning into Thursday, Feb. 1, “moderate to heavy rain” will soak Morgan Hill, Gilroy and Hollister. 

Between 1 and 1.5 inches of rainfall is expected in some areas—with the mountains receiving the brunt of the storm—from Jan. 31-Feb. 1, Kennedy said. 

The NWS has also issued a wind advisory during this storm, with gusts forecast to peak greater than 40 mph from 4am Wednesday to 4am Thursday. A flood watch is also in effect for about the same period. 

After a brief break, another storm will bring “fairly light” rainfall from Feb. 2-3, with about .25 inches expected in South Valley, Kennedy said. 

As of early this week, NWS forecasters were also tracking yet another system off the coast that is expected to reach landfall on Sunday, Feb. 4. Kennedy said that storm looks like it could bring another round of heavier rainfall to the region, but the coming days will add better clarity to the forecast. 

Local cities, counties, water districts and utility companies began preparing as early as Jan. 29 for potential flooding, wind damage and power outages that could result from the wet forecast. 

San Benito County offers sand and sandbags for residents at a number of locations, including the Hollister Airport, Hollister Fire Station 2 (Union Road), Hollister Public Works Yard, County Yard, San Juan Bautista City Yard and the Aromas Tri-County Fire Protection District. 

PG&E began mobilizing crews on Tuesday to prepare to respond to downed trees, falling debris, damaged power lines and outages. 

“We encourage customers to prepare for the storm now,” said PG&E’s Vice President for the South Bay and Central Coast Region, Teresa Alvarado. “Have an emergency plan in case you lose power and update your contact information onPG&E’s website so we can provide you with real-time outage updates in your neighborhood.”

The combination of heavy rain and gusty winds also raises the likelihood for potential roadway hazards, such as nuisance flooding, slippery roadway conditions and obstruction of roadways due to fallen debris, authorities said. Motorists should delay travel if possible and exercise extra caution when driving in stormy weather. 

Those who see downed power lines should assume they are live and dangerous and report them to their public utility. PG&E customers can contact the PG&E customer service center at 1.800.743.5000. To report, track and monitor PG&E electric outages, visit the PG&E Outage Center at ​​pgealerts.alerts.pge.com

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Michael Moore is an award-winning journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor for the Morgan Hill Times, Hollister Free Lance and Gilroy Dispatch since 2008. During that time, he has covered crime, breaking news, local government, education, entertainment and more.

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